I will say while I was watching the episode I completely lost track of how much time was passing by. This episode is actually the first part of an arc as the episode leaves before the big things start happening. So the good thing here is that things didn't feel panned out just so there could be a second part. Things play out well and I could see how this could have been one episode, but the thing is it shouldn't be. The beginning really builds up what is going to happen and it leaves a great amount of anticipation. The first major thing is that all the riders are getting involved and they are heading into the forest! The reason for that is something I will get to later. Still everyone was involved in this episode and easily had their moments as well which is great and shows that the series knows how to spread out the time for the characters. I really hope that this will continue on with the next part of this arc.
So why are all the riders being grouped up? Well it has to do with Micchy's and Kouta's plan. The two want to know more about the forest and about the people who are trying to destroy any signs of it in their world. The two easily could go in themselves, but there is the fear of the white rider appearing so Micchy thinks of a game to get the other riders into the forest. This way there is a high chance they can move on without getting attacked by the white rider. Now the game can be a big risk for Team Gaim since they are at number one right now, but I would guess this is why the other riders got involved. Baron, Invito, and Wild want to become number one so of course they want to defeat Team Gaim. Then Bravo just comes in because he wants to be in the game as well. Then for Gaim he has to stay out of the game to make things fair, but he will still be going into the forest. Again I have to say this, Micchy please stay like this and don't change around like you did in your first episodes.
So with all the riders wanting to get into the new game so they need some bikes t get into the forest. The only one who can get them is Sid (sorry for saying "Cid") and he doesn't comply at first. Luckily, Micchy starts to do some twisting and he promises Sid that they can get rare Lock Seeds. So with that Sid takes their offer even though he knows someone is going to be extremely ticked. Sid even has another motif to giving the riders the bikes as it seems he does not like how Takatora is running things. Sid thinks Takatora needs to be put into some danger so that he can finally listen to the others and not just calling the shots. So Sid is risking the chance of the riders finding out about the surveillance team in the forest. Even the scientist from the previous episodes is fine with this and then there was one line at the end that really got me thinking. Sid mentions that the forest hasn't decided on a person yet. Wait is the forest more than just vegetation? Maybe this has to do with a special type of Lock Seed and only a chosen one can have it. I'm calling it here; if there is a special Lock Seed it's going to be a golden apple. Well that was one interesting moment for Sid as there were already signs of him hating Takatora and his forcefulness, but the way he is saying things make it feel that he is more than plotting against Takatora.
I did say before that there are ways this could have been one episode and not a two part arc and that can easily be shown with the beginning of the episode. Kouta is just working on job giving out flyers about a Christmas sale and then all of a sudden the Inves appear. Kouta transforms into Gaim and fights the monsters and that's pretty much it. I will say though the fight was good even if it's just Gaim fighting two caccon Inves. First there was the fact that Kouta fought them in a Santa outfit for a little while as it's a silly little gag, but they are full of scenes where you can tell it's a stunt actor and there is even a moment where you see his face. To give credit though, Kouta's actor does do some stunts on his own, mostly in the beginning when he runs into the fight. He is jumping over bars, jumps through an open car, and then does some of the fighting. For when he does become Gaim, he is easily becoming a better fighter as he is getting a sense of his field of range. With two foes at his front and back and had to flip around and get quick attacks on the enemies and the same thing goes for his finisher at end. So even though it wasn't one hundred percent necessary for the episode, they made sure to make a quick and yet impressive fight.
The scene does have some importance though as it does show that the Inves are coming out more often and are attacking the innocent people. Now there is a better moment where this is shown and that is with where the riders are going to begin the game, but many Inves appear. Everyone gets ready to fight, except for Kouta. Kouta couldn't come out and fight since if the other riders see Kouta the plan will be ruined. Kouta does hate that he is using the other riders including Micchy as bait. I have to say one thing though; I would think Kouta would just say no to this plan in general. He knows of the white rider already and felt that he would be killed and this affected him greatly before. I would think that he wouldn't want anyone else to be fighting the white rider since there is the chance he would kill them! Maybe Kouta accepted the fact that fighting is always a risk which is something I felt he should have already realized ever since he started fighting, but oh well. At least Kouta is showing disinterest for having to use Micchy and the others as bait.
So with the beginning of the game things already get bad as I mentioned before many Inves appear and attack the riders. I will mention the character moments before getting to the action parts of the scene. First there was Alfonzo who is the first one to react to the sight of the Inves. He picks up a pipe and throws it at an Inves, alright Alfonzo that was a good moment for you. Then Alfonzo is the first one to transform so that he can fight the Inves. I do have to wonder why the other guys took so long to transform though. Oh well, next is Baron who quickly leaves the fight so that he can get a head start. The reason is that because when Kaito finds out this is not part of the game he decides that the others can take care of this even Bravo does the same thing. Then finally with Hase and Jonouchi have been working much better together. Their teamwork has improved greatly as the two fight the Inves out of suit. What I did like about their out of suit fight the most was how Jonouchi was fighting. Again Hase was easily be the one in command and giving his partner moments to attack, but Jonouchi is pretty much flailing his fist with no control. He gets more of a sense of control though as both him and Hase give good kicks to the Inves and then they transform. Then Gridon makes sure that Ryugen is left behind as he gives an Inves a Lock Seed to eat! So Ryugen's only choice left is to use Kiwi Arms and soon Gaim comes to save the day when Ryugen is the only one left.
Now I will get into the action part of the big fight. First most of the out of suit fights were great. Hase and Jonouchi did well together and Kaito pulled off some moves. For Kaito though his moves are done by a stunt actor as there is even a moment where they just have the camera closer to the ground to hide the stunt actor's face. At least they could have used the camera work for when Kouta had a stunt actor because that was much better even if we got to see the stunt actor's face for a quick moment. At least that scene tried to shoot the whole view and not just get lazy. Really it felt like the camera man got tired and put the camera down. Also a silly moment for the out of suit fight was when Micchy pulled his driver out with an Inves right in front of him as it knocks it out of his hand. Then for Micchy he gets a stunt actor as well as they actually hid his face while still shooting the whole area this time. So even though I will say the out of suit combat was good there could have been better moments of camera use to make it great.
So now we get the reveal of Kiwi Arms and I'm okay with this form. The only thing I don't like about the form are the huge shoulder pads and how they move too much. What I do love though fan attachments on the helmet and even though the chest plate is a bit big the design for it is fine. The color scheme also works very well for Ryugen as the different shade of green and brown work well with his overall green suit. Then Kiwi also has a great weapon as they are chakrams! They really remind me of the moon blades that Voldo can use in Soul Calibur 2. Sadly though, we don't get to see much of this form as Gaim saving the day means he will take on the rest of the Inves. Ryugen even gives him the Watermelon Lock Seed, no! Kiwi barely got a good introduction as there was no finisher for him yet. The rest of the fight is then a CGI mess so that's all I got to say or I will be getting on another tangent about Watermelon Arms.
The final moment in the episode was a really strong moment as we see Takatora transform for the first time. Then there was the area he was in. High chance the people around him are the surveillance team that was mentioned before. There is even a tree like thing in the area that has a huge opening to the forest as I wonder if this is the cause of the rifts. I mean it's a tree and usually trees have roots so could the rifts be a way of telling us that the tree is growing? Maybe I'm thinking too much about it, but that's what I love about that scene. The big highlight is Zangetsu's first transformation yet there was a lot to look at and to think about. I really have to wonder how they found this connection to the forest and this could be another reason why the Yggdrasil tower is really big as it could be covering the tree so that the general public don't know about it. Finally, the camera work for one transformation was easily the best shot in the overall episode!
Episode ten works well as the first part to an arc. I will say the buildup does take a little too much time, but I feel that the series wanted to make sure that the second part where the more important parts will be happening wouldn't be rushed. To make sure this episode can stand on its own they made sure to give us some good fights to make the episode memorable. There was also how Sid acted in the episode and that final moment in the episode. I do feel though that some of the camera work could have been better and Kiwi Arms did not get the reveal is deserves. Still this episode gets a B+
Next Time: Watermelon Arms again, already?!